SJPSS Chamber Choir emerges as champion in youth category of BCFC 2021

Members of the SJPSS Chamber Choir performing their award winning song ‘Ikan Kekek’.

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KUCHING, Oct 27: The St Joseph’s Private Secondary School (SJPSS) Chamber Choir has emerged as the champion in the youth category of the Busan Choral Festival and Competition (BCFC) 2021 last Saturday with the song ‘Ikan Kekek’ which was arranged by Dr Tracy Wong.

In a statement, SJPSS said BCFC, held in South Korea from Oct 21 to 24 this year brought together 21 teams from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.

It said participants from other countries participated via online platforms due to the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions, while in South Korea, the event was held at the Guemjeong Cultural Centre and the Busan Cinema Centre.

This year, it said the jury panel was invited to assess the different virtual choir entries from the various categories in BCFC and they include Anton Armstrong (USA) who is also the President of the Jury, Soon-Jung Kim (South Korea), Yu-Chung John Ku (Taiwan), Ki-Sun Lee (South Korea) and Zoltán Pad (Hungary).

It noted the success of the festival and competition has shown that even though the Covid-19 pandemic has been around since the beginning of last year, it has not stopped people from the world over to come together to sing as one.

Meanwhile, SJPSS said Wong, who hailed from Malaysia is currently the Assistant Professor and Choral Director at McMaster University where she earned a teaching excellence award and has taught a wide range of musical performances, research and music education courses in Canada.

Upon hearing SJPSS Chamber Choir was selected as the champion, Wong immediately sent her congratulations to the conductor of SJPSS Chamber Choir, Benedict Lo.

“The performance of ‘Ikan Kekek’ (SATB, Cypress Choral Music’s Zimfira Poloz Collection) is so clean, musical, and showcased Malaysian spirit and was very well done. Thank you for choosing my piece and for representing our country. Malaysia Boleh!” Wong said.

Under the continuous guidance and support of both Lo and Ivy Elmira, the teachers-in-charge of the club, the chamber choir members managed to put together a superb performance, complemented with simple yet meaningful choreography depicting the culture of the fishermen in Malaysia.

Members of the SJPSS Chamber Choir performing their award winning song ‘Ikan Kekek’ in a beach set background.

Throughout the four days of the festival, members of the choir watched choir performances from other countries via YouTube and were filled with awe when they saw how active and creative the choirs were, despite these trying times.

SJPSS added that the joy and sense of achievement from the international competition has greatly motivated and inspired the chamber choir members to continue to work hard and strive for greater achievements.

SJPSS Chamber Choir was formed at the end of 2017.

Its committed, passionate and fun-loving members are all students of SJPSS who started singing in the school’s Choir Club founded in 2014.

In 2016, under the baton and direction of Lo, the choir’s debut stage performance was in the school’s first variety concert RHYTHM and COLOUR.

In 2017 and 2019, St Joseph’s Family of Schools staged The White Rajah of Sarawak, an original musical production which was a resounding success and many of the members of the choir also played key roles in the musical.

SJPSS said its choir strives to enhance the choral experience among the young people, hoping to build a sense of belonging and community spirit among its members.

The close bonds felt among the members come from the opportunities they have to enjoy doing something positive, learning discipline and leadership, but most importantly, having a voice to contribute to the community in special performances, fund raising concerts, school assemblies and Eucharistic celebrations.

To recap on its achievements, SJPSS Chamber Choir garnered its first silver medal (Grade 1) in the 11th ‘Orientale Concentus’ International Choral Festival held in Singapore in 2018.

Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, SJPSS Chamber Choir won the gold medal at the 2nd World Virtual Choir Festival held in December 2020 with the rendition of “Lileng”, a Sarawak Kenyah Folktune arranged by Lo, the Choir’s Resident Conductor and Choir Director.

In June 2021, SJPSS Choir won the Gold award at the Malaysian Choral Eisteddfod 2021. — DayakDaily